Atlanta Braves' Bullpen Blues

Ryan HContributor IApril 15, 2008

It's no secret at the major league level, pitching means success.

Nobody has embraced that more vigorously over the last 15 years as the Atlanta Braves. Yet for the last few years, pitching in Atlanta has been rather painful.

More than painful, it has been frustrating to see injury after injury.

The latest person to pull a “Hampton” was none other than setup reliever Peter Moylan. Now with his ailing right elbow, he finds himself on the 15-day disabled list.

A few days earlier, Tom Glavine suffered a similar fate, only his issue was a hamstring problem.

To say the starting rotation is decimated is a bit of an over exaggeration.

Mike Hampton almost took the mound, he was really close, but nobody expected much of anything. It will just be a huge relief, both with the finances as well as team morale, to get the dead weight off of the team next year.

Tom Glavine is day-to-day at this point, so it is promising that he will return sooner rather than later. In terms of the rotation, the first four spots show a lot of promise and that is more than many teams around the league can say this year.

The big dilemma resides in the bullpen.

Is it a coincidence that each year the team hasn’t made the playoffs the bullpen has been a complete gong show? I think not.

As a fan, it is so frustrating to see such instability. For one, there hasn’t been a solid closer since John Smoltz rejoined the starting rotation.

No disrespect to Rafael Soriano, he hasn’t had a chance to really prove himself in the role on a full-time basis. I don’t know what would be more painful, being stuck behind Bob Wickman in the McDonalds drive thru or in the bullpen.

Thankfully that was one problem that was dealt with. 

Mike Gonzalez, who was dealt to the Braves in the Adam LaRoche deal, is greatly missed in the bullpen. Upon being injured, Braves fans everywhere wondered who would step up as a middle reliever who could eat up innings.

The answer had some Aussie flavor. Peter Moylan has been stellar in this role. He had even upgraded himself to be the main setup man. The baseball gods must have taken notice, and now he finds himself on the 15-day DL.

It’s times like this, where it gets harder to watch a game the deeper it gets.

Now is the daunting task of looking ahead and seeing who will step up now in a time of need. Maybe Will Ohman? Chris Resop? I won’t even speculate at this point.

I will keep my fingers crossed from the sixth inning on in every game and hope for the best. Thank God the slugging is so extraordinary. Maybe it will keep the Braves afloat, and hopefully Frank Wren will make something happen.